Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
The Greeks Us / Greece in West  

Hobbes, In search of the truth

Excerpts from Hobbes' Thucydides 


The Original Greek New Testament
Page 3

For his opinion touching the government of the state, it is manifest that he least of all liked the democracy. And upon divers occasions he noteth the emulation and contention of the demagogues for reputation and glory of wit; with their crossing of each other's counsels, to the damage of the public; the inconsistency of resolutions, caused by the diversity of ends and power of rhetoric in the orators; and the desperate actions undertaken upon the flattering advice of such as desired to attain, or to hold what they had attained, of authority and sway amongst the common people.
Nor doth it appear that he magnifieth anywhere the authority of the few: amongst whom, he saith, every one desireth to be the chief; and they that are undervalued, bear it with less patience than in a democracy; whereupon sedition followeth, and dissolution of the government.
He praiseth the government of Athens, when it was mixed of the few and the many; but more he commendeth it, both when Peisistratus reigned, (saving that it was an usurped power), and when in the beginning of this war it was democratical in name, but in effect monarchical under Pericles.
So that it seemeth, that as he was of regal descent, so he best approved of the regal government. It is therefore no marvel, if he meddled as little as he could in the business of the commonwealth; but gave himself rather to the observation and recording of what was done by those that had the managing thereof. Which also he was no less prompt, diligent, and faithful by the disposition of his mind, than by his fortune, dignity, and wisdom able, to accomplish.

How he was disposed to a work of this nature, may be understood by this: that when being a young man he heard Herodotus the historiographer reciting his history in public, (for such was the fashion both of that, and many ages after), he felt so great a sting of emulation, that it drew tears from him: insomuch as Herodotus himself took notice how violently his mind was set on letters, and told his father Olorus.

When the Peloponnesian war began to break out, he conjectured truly that it would prove an argument worthy of his labour: and no sooner it began, than he began his history; pursuing the same not in that perfect manner in which we see it now, but by way of commentary or plain register of the actions and passages thereof, as from time to time they fell out and came to his knowledge. But such a commentary it was, as might perhaps deserve to be preferred before a history written by another.

Previous Page / First / Next

Cf. Thucydides: Democracy of the Best & A history of Ideas   Papacy

More by Hobbes

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

The Greeks Us Library

Learned Freeware

Reference address :